Interview with Al Nasturzio


Published: October 2016

Interview with Al Nasturzio

In May 2016, the leadership of TidalShift Inc. was transitioned to new hands as Al Nasturzio joined the organization in the role of President. As a pioneer of Canada’s IT training industry, Al was responsible for establishing the country’s first privately owned computer training centre, Ivy Computer Centres. We recently sat down with Al to discuss how Learning and Development has evolved and where he foresees changes in technology, as well how individuals choose to access learning, will take us next.

How did you first get involved in the Learning and Development industry?

AN: I stumbled into it. I had a friend who was working at Seneca College and they had just accepted their first delivery of Apple’s new microcomputer, except no one knew how to use it. So we developed a course. After that, I found an opportunity with an Apple reseller providing user training. The rest, as they say, is history.

What is the most significant change that you have observed in the Learning and Development sector over the past 25 years?

AN: The growth of the industry overall, for sure. It has become a multibillion-dollar business in Canada alone. Not only has the number of private providers grown significantly, the number of universities that are now offering executive education in a for-profit model has increased as well.

“Stronger, better trained teams make for more efficient and engaged employees which in turn fosters stronger, more profitable organizations who support and strengthen the Canadian economy.”

And in the last 5?

AN: I would say technology has been the most impactful. We are seeing not only more sophisticated virtual training delivery options but a significant increase in the demand and quality of blended learning programs; combining the best of what virtual training can offer with the personal touch of traditional instructor lead deliveries.

What has stayed the same?

AN: Many leaders recognize the need for L&D but they often struggle when it comes to budgeting. Insufficient allocation of funds is a common and historical challenge in our industry. The good news is that this is a trend that appears to be shifting. Recent data gathered by The Conference Board of Canada shows that the average training spend per employee has been steadily on the rise since 2014. The spending gap between Canadian and American organizations is narrowing too. As a matter of fact, investments in Learning and Development are increasing at a faster rate here in Canada then they are in the US, which is a first.

These are all steps in the right direction. Stronger, better trained teams make for more efficient and engaged employees which in turn fosters stronger, more profitable organizations who support and strengthen the Canadian economy.

What do you see as being the ‘next frontier’ in learning and development?

AN: For individuals, learning is now global. You can access online courses and earn online degrees from universities around the world without ever leaving the comfort of your home. I think we’ll gradually start to see more and more learning on a global scale. There is a need to tread carefully here though. To be effective, training has to be relevant to your marketplace and to your industry. As with anything you find online, buyer beware. Do your homework before you invest your time and dollars.

From a corporate perspective, technology, shorter timelines for training and again, access to more online content than ever before. Leadership development programs to prepare the next generation of leaders and change management are both keys areas. The world has changed. It’s become a global marketplace and we are all still adapting.

As a father of three, what wisdom have you handed down to your teenagers about establishing their career tracks and continuing education?

AN: What I tell them, first and foremost, is to find their passion. What is it that you get excited about? That will drive where you go and what you want to do. It’s exactly what we look for in our employees. People who have the skills to get the job done and the passion to innovate and grow along with the company.

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Source: Business Council of Canada